SK institution as holdover

Dragon/Sorcerer Kings had tyrannize by millenas the most important places and populations of Athas. They were uniquat persons, without possible imitation their by others. Nobody can have connection with elemental plane to “stole” clerical powers for own priests (templars). Their also had many secrets, great engineering, secret magic and others concepts. But in last official age many monarch was eliminated, some by heroes, general normal persons (not by other super-beings).

And I think, do in future of Athas surviving SK’s have any future in this world? Not only as perons, but also als ruler, super-beings etc. Do maybe SK’s are like a dinosaurs? Their are holdover and must become extinct. But here also create question - do institution of SK can have any form of evolution? Do this is dead end of evolution/progress? Rest of SK’s will be killed by new generations of heroes. Increased activity of old and new races (Kreens, Silvaraaks, Pterrans etc.) can bring about the birth of new political centers from which a new type of leader will emerge. Better adapted to new world, with maybe lesser individual power but with better group power.

Or maybe not? SK’s maybe still can make reforms, political or ideological or other, and avoid fate of Kalak. In new age Athas have new elements - in their planes can birth new “vortexes” and this can be sources of power for new SK’s. Atzetuk current is figurehead, but templars and psions can study new elements and “stole vortex” for Atzetuk, for quasi-divine powers. Even as half-dragon with personality after brainwash, can be new real D/SK.

Even colaboration with new/old elements can be some interesant options for D/SK. SK can parasitize powers from Silt element, this will make happy Water element. In resoult have new and more sources of powers. In result have new and more sources of powers. Options to make positive and negative things and tyranny can be saved.

OR SK can collaborate with new elements. Leading to rewrite DNA own populations, forcing to the evolution of humans, so that they can live better in the Sea of Silt. Transformation humans to new demi-human race. In this situation SK still can have power, still can rule and there will be lesser probability of a coup d’état.


In my opinion, any city without a Sorcerer Monarch dies. The basic poltical and economic system on Athas is ‘oriental despotism’, and only very strong rulers with magic using servants (the templars) can keep it running.

Tyr without Kalak will likely be dead in 2 centuries even if a Sorcerer Monarch does not destroy it.


That in and of itself would be interesting for a story. What does it take to hold civilisation together when resources are this scarce? Is authoritarianism and the monopoly on violence the only way, or is it the ones who have the strongest grip on life-giving resources?

Could an agricultural cartel or ruthless elemental priest organisation prolong the lifespan of a city as big as Tyr? I know there are many other large towns throughout the Tablelands like Altaruk, what holds them together?


In my campaign for Athas we are currently 300 years after the fall of Kalak. During that time Tyr nearly collapsed several times and Sadira had to step up and take over the city a few times to keep it safe. She considers herself the new wanderer and only comes back if she’s needed but the other SK refer to her as the Sorcerer Queen of Tyr which ticks her off to no end.



In my opinion, any city without a Sorcerer Monarch dies. The basic poltical and economic system on Athas is ‘oriental despotism’, and only very strong rulers with magic using servants (the templars) can keep it running.

We should separate “Tyr as City-State”, “Tyr as megalopolis” and “Tyr as city”.

As megalopolis - yes. I also think, tat without SK cities like a Tyr havent future. BUT as city or capital of new country - why not? This can reform, disperse the population, and surrounding Tyr by smaller cities.In resoult in place great City-State Tyr can change into Tyrian League (like a Etruscan League or Peloponnesian League).

Raam is current in long-timed civil war. And even with CW still Raam is big city with great potential.


Is authoritarianism and the monopoly on violence the only way, or is it the ones who have the strongest grip on life-giving resources?

Under such conditions, economic liberalism doesnt work. Some form of bureaucratic control over population, economy, agriculture, trade, etc. will still be needed - to avoid “Malthusian trap”. Ergo “humanism and liberalisation in policy” will have small influence. Like in Tyr - the initial enthusiasm for abolition slavery was struck by reality.

Civilizations of “normal humans and demi-human races” are limited to slavery hunter-gatherer (but do society with “hunter-gatherer economy” can be named as civilizated?) or primitive form of planned economy. Cannot be feudalization or higher economists because lack of farmlands.

Do Kreens, Pterrans or others can transform to other forms of economy? Maybe. Future can be for non-human and non-demi-human races


I think Tyr could survive. Not guaranteed of course and it’s destined for it’s own take on oriental despotism. With Sadira as SQ (I like the idea of her hating the idea) and support from elemental priests and preservers and a strong army and population controlling the iron mines it might just have the wherewithal to survive, IF it makes peace with it’s near neighbour’s. Ignoring the possibility of Ceruleans coming to the city at the kings behest, which would change the dynamic…

I think Raam is at greater longterm risk, despite its higher wealth, population and trade routes. Even if its three surviving factions can unite, it lacks the psionic and magical strength to survive. Even with elvish casters and the Tarandan school. I think its only hope is to be propped up by several other SKs as a foil against a resurgent Dregoth in Guistenal (New or Old). Even then its chances aren’t good.

Draaj will be fine… :first_quarter_moon:

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Tyr’s future is something I leave largely up to the actions of the PCs. Without the players getting off their butts and doing something Tyr’s fate is dubious at best. I personally don’t go with the Pentad’s storyline, but I would still depict Tithian as seeking to become a SK himself and find a way of creating his own templar. Sacha and Wyan would still serve as ideal mentors for a prospective SK, but as loyalists to Rajaat they would likely instead kick off their own campaign for the PCs to fix rather than elevate Tithian to SK.

If the PCs don’t fix this, I see three possible outcomes. The first is Tithian pulls one over on Sacha and Wyan, becomes a SK, and Tyr is arguably at least better off than with Kalak.

The second is that Sacha and/or Wyan betray Tithian. Perhaps one or both gains their own body and secretly rules Tyr while masquerading as Tithian so they can use Tyr’s resources to try and free Rajaat behind everyone’s back. Perhaps they get their hands on the Dark Lens and all hell breaks loose. Either way bad times all around.

The third is at least one of the SKs figures out what’s going on and kills Sacha and Wyan, Tithian is also likely going to die. In this case there is now a city with no SK and several SKs eyeing the city hungrily. Hamanu would likely still want the city, but he can’t swoop over as a SK to conquer it without leaving Uruk vulnerable and I don’t see Tyr losing that siege. Instead I could see the remaining SKs using Tyr as something of a neutral territory for them all to try and exploit. Hell if the nobility of Tyr are clever they could play the other SKs against each other to maintain their neutrality. That’s grabbing a tiger by the tail if I ever saw it, but it beats the alternative…


I don’t see the elemental priests as a good replacement for the templars. Elemental priests can be very weird people. Just look at Caelum. Sure, in the city they have temples and some form of organized religion, but unlike the templars, there is no single authority that can bend them to it’s will by denying them spells if they are disobedient.

Empowering the elemental priests would likely make them a powerful faction that may even take over. I find it hard to believe that they could be bent to serve a secular leader when they could just lead themselves.

I agree the EPs would be far less effective than the Templarate. But as a supplement, with psionicists, prrservers and former Templars it may just be enough to survive as a city state. At least with PC help. I see Raam as far weaker, ending as a puppet state for proxy wars with Dregoth, as the SKs buy time to deal with him (incidentally helping Tyr, as they can’t afford the distraction whilst they fond a balance to Old Dreg).

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There is only one important question - do for survive of megalopolis and/or City-State needed are users of supernatural power?

How show Tyr - templars (even as ex-templars) are needed, because nobody other have administrative, economical and authoritative skills to management of such a great socio-political organism. But they haven’t supernatural power, so hierarchy and “ordnung” in templar organization is an endangered. Ex-templars in Tyr can be quickly infected by chaos and lead to next civil war.

In DS templar with lesser rank have fear to templars with higher rank, because they have higher connection to SK, better access to divine magic etc. EP can give new connection with divine magic of planes, but do planes will love servants of cities?

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The way I see it, supernatural power is required for a city state to help keep rival city states from invading and to exert power over the populace. But, that is in a normal city state ran by a SK and templar. If Tyr makes greater concessions to the populace while also being able to maintain a large enough force of warriors to maintain order, Templar as we know them may not be required. Folks have already mentioned that there can even be greater incentives put forth by the nobility for clerics to set up shop in Tyr and provide magical services templar might have once offered.

The bigger issue is keeping rival SKs at bay. Templar go a fair way towards keeping a city secure, but without a sorcerer king things are quite fragile indeed. Mind you if this is Post Pentad we have other cities without SKs as well, so no single city would be a target. At that point we’d also need to assume the surviving SKs are a bit nervous about their survivability and would likely focus on consolidating their power. As for the fate of Tyr if it were the only “free city”, my earlier post addresses that.


Tyr may be a special case because of its iron mine, which bring Tyr enormous wealth. Under a Sorcerer Monarch, if the iron mine ran dry the city would persist. I suspect that if the iron mine were to run out of iron post-Kalak that Tyr would collapse.

The magic of the templars is best thought of as a resource, a resource that Tyr currently lacks. Athas doesn’t have despotic rulers solely because the SMs are megalomaniacs. Life on Athas necessitates it.

Civilization on Athas is upheld by the supernatural powers of the Sorcerer Monarchs, their templars, and on the backs of the slaves that receive no recompense for their labor. Athas is a world of chronic shortage. Only by forcibly reducing the consumption of a section of the population (slaves) while forcing that sector to tirelessly produce for the rest can a surplus be extracted beyond mere subsistence. Without surplus beyond subsistence there can be no civilization.

The situation on Athas is not the same as historical American slavery, Roman slavery, or elsewhere in the ancient world. These lands did not have chronic resource shortage like Athas. I suspect that Tyr’s experiment with mass manumission will be short lived and slavery will return to Tyr - probably slaves imported from elsewhere.


Tyr doesn’t need slaves as such provided it can maintain a surplus of a key resource, iron. Of course it needs some convict labourers, perhaps some indentured servants and maybe some serfs bind to the land. A few free gladiators to entertain the crowd. But totally not slaves. :roll_eyes:

These not-slaves should still experience better conditions than those in other city states.

Their numbers could be supplemented by free miners, farmers and labourers together with a healthy influx of immigrant freed slaves (who are less likely than most to end up indentured but more likely to end up poor cheap labour).

Even if Nibenay gets the iron mines under the Blackspine Mountains productive it doesn’t matter to Tyr much there’s such a shortage. It shouldn’t even affect the price overly with such demand.

Going with canon, a settlement above 500 people in the Tyr Region needs a Sorceror Monarch up until FY10+. Until the shake up in FY10, the Dragon and the SMs are the international hegemony on Athas. They won’t tolerate potential threats and conversely a settlement without a SM can’t stand up to the Seven Cities and the Dragon. Freedom, Salt View, and other small villages run by ex-slaves will be tolerated, but only up to a point. Try to get bigger and you’ll get crushed.

Outside the Tyr Region, things are easier - Winter’s Nest, Pterran Vale and Thamasku aren’t troubled by the former Champions (and their demihuman populations are generally too alien for SMs to bother with).

Once you get to the shakeup of The Cerulean Storm, there’s no Dragon to worry about and the remaining SMs are either plotting, consolidating, or going madder (you can just imagine how many ways Daskinor took the death of Borys…). At this point, as long as you’re not too close to a SM ruled city, you can start growing. Tyr is also going to survive as a city state. I can see a civil war potentially brewing there c. FY25 or so as the remnants of ‘Kalak’s Templarate’ start getting outnumbered by newbies who will have more personal power (as wizards, clerics, whatever) than the old guard. I can’t see it destroying Tyr though, or leaving it weak enough for a resurgent Hamanu to come prowling.


@Kalindren very much so. The aggressors in that putative civil war are almost certainly the newly enfranchised taking revenge and committing new atrocities too.


@MDMann which leaves the field clear for Sadira and her Preserver faction to save the day. I’ve never generally subscribed to the ‘Sadira becomes a SQ in all but name’ idea but I’m beginning to see it becomes more and more inevitable. Especially if she continues to grow her ‘baseline’ magical powers and knowledge (which are then boosted during the day).

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She doesn’t need to go Defiler or Dragon metamorphosis, but in many ways yeah. Not ruling much but definitely based there.

Alternatively, (or concurrently) Tithian could empower his Cerulean Templars in a similar way to the SKs. He doesn’t even have to escape the Cerulean Storm to effect this…



'If Tyr makes greater concessions to the populace while also being able to maintain a large enough force of warriors to maintain order, Templar as we know them may not be required.

Templars would be transform to normal form of bureaucrats in “more normal” fantasy worlds. I suspect, that the common fear of abuses of power will lead to many reforms with one main goal - limited the secular power and functions of the Templars. By lack of sacral powers they also lost own name. So templars in Tyr live on borrowed time.

As new form of executive power in Tyr, goverment can try copy a the institution of Lawkeepers from Saragar (but do they have knowledge about Saragar?). Or create new institution, based on preserver-fighters.


Tyr doesn’t need slaves as such provided it can maintain a surplus of a key resource, iron.

I think, that nope. Slavery economy work, because for big part of society increasing living standards is locked. Greater demands, with constant supply can lead to significant inflation. Num of goods for Tyr can be even lesser than pre-revolutionary times, because some trade tracks are locked, unrests in other City-States break parts of economy, Merchant Houses have open gates to big speculations etc. This is open gate to “shortage economy” and long-timed, economical crisis (and this to next unrest, problems etc.).

About Shadira… I think, that colaboration with psionics and other users of super-natural powers, she can start think about find new way of metamorphosis. It is too much of a temptation for users of super-natural powers (even druids and EP have option to metamorphosis) and a this sorceress isn’t pure goodness…


Tempted yes, but there are restraints too, not the least of which is politics. If she were to pursue this her initial steps at least would needs be in secret. It seems to me that she is driven by necessity (as she perceives it). Since transformation requires research and preparation it isn’t as readily available when she’s prepared to compromise her morals. With a strong army, psionicists and priests she has (suboptimal) more palatable options. If Tithian could contact some Templars and empower them with the Cerulean Storm even if he remains trapped this could provide all the power needed. It also increases tensions nicely whilst being something each side could just about accept.

As for the freed slave economy I’m not convinced that it would collapse. Tyr could reintroduce it in lesser or renamed form such as serfdom. But, provided the surrounding areas retain slavery it provides a useful pressure release valve as escaped slaves pump Tyrs economy and provide cheap exploitable labour. The free and poor could enjoy worse conditions in Tyr than they ever did when bound. But there would be enough success stories to perpetuate the system. After all someone has to win this lottery and It Could Be YOU! :grin: The economy to suffer would be the slave tribes who rely upon an influx of new blood which could be greatly lessened. Without the Dragons Levy to meet the other cities need fewer imports and improved security with fewer raiders could in turn pump their economies. Not saying this is how it must or will go but that it’s a plausible and somewhat likely scenario from FY11.

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I believe the templars are more likely to be replaced by Psions than Wizards. Preservers will likely replace the Royal Defilers and act as troubleshooters, but the general Templar with Fighter/Warrior guards as a patrol will likely be replaced by Psions with Fighter/Warrior guards, maybe some Gladiators.

I could see Sadira focusing on magic more and more, she’s not really into psionics. There’s nothing that says her Sun Wizardy doesn’t give her immortality or such an extended lifespan that she can figure out how to become truly immortal. I don’t see her overly happy playing politics, but she may very well sit back on her estate, practicing magic, waiting to hear something isn’t going the way she wants before she walks in and forces the matter. She can be the figurehead for the Preservers until she “appoints” someone who is more politically astute and just show up when some extra convincing is needed.